I can’t grow a moustache, so I’m doing this in November instead

NaNoWriMo flyer

Ever wanted to write a novel? Most of us have at some point thought, Man! This would make a good book.

We might get really enthusiastic about our idea, might even get as far as writing a few notes on a phone, laptop, or – in a fit of romantic literary cliche – a napkin.

Then life, the great dampener of creativity, invades our spirit and the writing spark fizzles out. Or we start over-complicating what it is we want to write.

What’s this story about, anyway? Do I really have time to do this? Who would read it, who would actually care?

Answer: If you care enough to write it, then you should. And as to the time thing, what about you try to write as much as you can but only for a short time – say a month?

I’ve just signed up to NaNoWriMo – short for National Novel Writing Month – along with over 200,000 other writers. You’re allowed to plan your novel in advance but not a single word, dot or colon must be written of the actual story until November 1st. TODAY!!

It’s really quite nice to be part of some big challenge. It’s never occurred to me to run a marathon. Or swim the channel. Kilimanjaro remains unconquered by me and the poles are all together too white and freezing to invite a visit from someone part human, part lizard, when there’s no promise of boarding to entice me to the snow.

Thinking on a more modest scale, I’ve never been able to grow a moustache – ruling out any success for me during Movember – and I didn’t quite get around to giving up alcohol in Stoptober. So doing something I love – writing – and combining it with something I should do more of – not drinking – means NaNoWriMo sounds like my Goldilocks activity: just right.

Actually it’s more that one relies on the other if it’s to work at all. Churning out 2000 odd words a day means that while I’m getting out that novel (or at least a large chunk of it) by default I won’t be drinking. Two birds, one stone. It’s all good.

My taking part in NaNoWriMo is good for me, of course, but it’s also helping support thousands of young writers find their literary voices. People can be so nervous about how others will rate their stories. I hope that these young writers find their nerve and write, no matter what. Because it’s the writing that matters. No single book has been loved universally. If just one reader engages with what you’ve written, you’ve succeeded. You’re a writer.

Cover 1If it all goes according to my plan, and I use that word loosely, my second novel, Sleeping Ghosts, will be more than 50,000 words into its first draft by the time silly season hits.

Next year, if I manage to write something I like this time, I’ll look into sponsoring my efforts so that other souls can benefit from my sober, Novel-ember too.

Here’s hoping my first drink of December is a celebratory one.

With bubbles. Or perhaps an olive.


About Sally Nursten

Writer. Mother. Lover of life and all its twisty-turny ways.
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